My Days

By Vicki Johnson

Ps 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

My days. Those empty little boxes on every calendar I see. A plan yet to be executed. An anniversary yet to be celebrated. A debt yet to be paid. A time yet to be prepared. I look to the calendar to remind me which numbered day I’m on and I function according to the agenda of that 24 hour period of time. Sleep. Wake. Dress. Eat. Read. Work. Play. And on it goes.

So what? A day in the life. My life? Is it my life? Or does my life belong to Him, the one who rescued me from darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved Son? My life is not my own.  I have been bought with a price. I forget that so often. I play in the kingdom of Light and reside in His grace and mercy. Day after day. His days of grace.

So, how will I number my days this year? They are mine. God has given me my days. They ebb and flow with other’s days, but still uniquely belong to me. He has placed them in my control; entrusted their usefulness and purpose to me, and me alone. Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon defines “number” as: to count, reckon, number, assign, tell, appoint, or prepare.

This year:

May I be faithful to count my days as a treasure, summed up in God’s mercy and grace.

May I reckon the time spent on tasks and projects as an offering to give Him praise and glory.

May I number the seconds, minutes, hours, and days as a singular gift. To be present in the present.

May I deliberately assign a purpose to my time so that it will bear fruit that is pleasing to God.

May I tell the worldly pilferers of time to clear out and my frantic heart to rest in His Presence.

May I appoint each day to work for the King of Kings, to be about His business.

May I prepare each day to formulate ways in which I learn and apply God’s wisdom in my life to glorify my Father in Heaven.

Psalm 90:14-17 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, {And} the years we have seen evil.  Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children.  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

God has given us purpose for our days, purpose with our praise and purpose in our ways.

ONE MOMENT AT A TIME

By Sarah Langness

One of the most significant moments in my walk with the Lord happened on a faded yellow movie-theater style chair in the Reusch Auditorium on the YMCA of the Rockies campus. The year was 2003 and I was enjoying the summer bliss following my freshman year of high school. The week at FLY was soon coming to a close; one of those weeks that seem so long on Monday but by Friday, you’re trying to find out how the days passed so quickly. I was gathered with other high school students listening to a message from a passage in Matthew 14:

“[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray . . . The boat was already a long distance from land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ 

Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?'” – Matthew 14:22-31, NASB 

That night, the speaker challenged us to be like Peter. To follow Jesus. To get out of the boat. To get out of our comfort zone.

I don’t remember if she specifically said anything about doing “big” things for Jesus or “exciting” or “crazy” things for His name; but I’ll  never forget the prayer that I prayed. I committed my walk and my way to the Lord, promising that I would go wherever He sent me – even if it was in Africa.

Now, 11 years later, I sort of chuckle at that prayer. Well, maybe not chuckle. But I certainly shake my head. 

Because I guarantee you that I never would have prayed, “Lord, I’ll do whatever it is You want me to do, even live in Beulah, North Dakota.” Who would? I mean, in those moments, in those prayers, we’re thinking BIG stuff. Exciting stuff.  The kind of stuff that you read about in a Voice of the Martyr’s magazine or a Samaritan’s Purse Prayer Point bulletin insert. It’s the stuff that Katie Davis does in Uganda or the impact that Mother Theresa left. It’s the stuff that is seen, the stuff that is recognized and that fills us with a sense of awe and purpose.

I didn’t realize then – and have only begun to realize now – that following Jesus is done in the everyday, ordinary moments of life. That just because I’m “only” a stay-at-home mom and ministry wife doesn’t make what I do for the Kingdom any less significant. That following Jesus, getting out of the boat of our own comfort, is lots of little things.

It’s opening up my home and my heart to that new mom who feels alone.
It’s making a meal for that family who just experienced a loss.
It’s waking up countless times throughout the night to soothe a sick child.
It’s supporting my husband in his ministry even when it means he’s gone for the fourth night this week.
It’s considering the impact of my words before I speak them.
It’s setting aside my preferences to make time for others.
It’s holding my mouth shut when it really wants to spew that gossip or speak bad about someone.
It’s baking cookies for our bachelor neighbor – not just at Christmas.
It’s practicing patience when our little boy decides the bathtub is a scary place.
It’s not holding onto a hurtful grudge.
It’s redirecting funds in our budget to feed the hungry instead of buying myself another new pair of jeans.
It’s not being jealous of a close friendship between family members or friends.
It’s making my husband a chicken potpie even though I don’t really like potpies.

Serving the Lord in the everyday, ordinary moments of life probably won’t make ministry magazine headlines. In fact, it may even go unnoticed by the world. But following Jesus, serving Him, is done only for One. And it’s done one moment at a time.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom who serve.” Colossians 3:23-24, NASB (emphasis mine) 

Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into joy of your master.” – Matthew 25:21, NASB (emphasis mine)

 

Taking Time to Really See

by Jonni Sliver

So I was driving from Springfield, Mo. to Hannibal, Mo. and I’m afraid I might have been a bit of a road hazard –the scenery was totally distracting! Even on the interstate the road turned and curved, was uphill and down. I was surrounded by what looked like a dense forest, but the road itself was cut out from granite and amazing stone walls occasionally lined the interstate, other times the rock jutted out , in rugged beauty. As I was driving, a song was playing on the radio and the chorus was:

“You’re the reason for every good thing, every heartbeat, every day we get to breathe, You’re the reason.”

The song seemed so appropriate and it made me think about how many good things we see so often that we don’t notice them anymore. The people who drive on the I-44 every day outside of Springfield probably don’t consciously see the rock formations or the sea of trees anymore. But for a visitor, new to the Ozarks, it is amazing!

I had a similar experience less than a week ago, but in a totally different setting. I stopped at a farm in Randall, Iowa because it had the prettiest barn. Yes, driving down a county road I saw a really pretty barn. If you live on a county road in Iowa (rural Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin or a lot of other places) you see so many barns on an average day you might be surprised that one stands out from another. I know the sweet young lady that came out of the house when I stopped in her drive way seemed a bit confused. But barns are not part of my day to day landscape and this one stood out to me.

It strikes me that God has surrounded us with so many “good things”, special, precious things to bless our hearts, but we get so used to them we don’t see them anymore, and we miss the joy.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  Psalm 19:1  (ESV)

All around us, all the time God has something prepared to remind us of His great love. Take a minute to really see what is around you today!

Time Is Not On My Side

by Sarah Langness

I’ve never been a big fan of change. I didn’t like that year when my brother lived in Florida, over 1800 miles from me in Fargo. That stunk. I also didn’t like the change that came with moving out to western North Dakota. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade being married to Jordan for anything; but when your closest friends are a minimum of 250 miles away, others 500 miles away – it’s tough. But if I could do it all again, there would be things I would change in the change. Like when I moved out to Beulah, I wouldn’t have waited to invest in friendships, in relationships. Because you know what? Time is not on my side.

Jenna was married the same summer that I was. She and her husband live up the street. For the past three and a half years, I could walk up to her house and count the other houses I passed on two hands. But ya know what? I wasted a lot of time in the last three and a half years. Maybe it’s because I had this faulty thinking of a newlywed who believed the only friend they needed was their spouse. Maybe it’s because I thought the friends I had from AFLBS were so great I didn’t need any other friends. Maybe it’s because I felt like a scared middle schooler wanting the cool girl to be her friend. I don’t know. But it wasn’t until this last year that my friendship with Jenna really seemed to take root and grow.

And now, Jenna’s moving.

I hate that I wasted that time. If I could go back to 2009, I would change a lot of things over the course of the next three years. I wouldn’t take for granted that such a good friend would live so near. But unfortunately, I can’t go back. I can only make use of the time that I have now. I can only make better investments in friendships now. I can only be bold and intentional in creating new relationships now.

So that young couple we met the other night? I guess I shouldn’t just keep her number in my phone – I should call her, text her, have a play-date with her. Our neighbors across the street? I shouldn’t just wish I knew them – I should bring over some cookies, invite them to our place for a game night. That family from church who always seems to encourage me? I shouldn’t just think about how grateful I am for them – I should tell them, thank them for being a blessing.

” …[make] the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:16

“So then while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:10

It’s too easy to think that we’ve got time. So we wait to invest, wait to engage, wait to bless. But in waiting, we waste so much. Because you know what? Time is not on our side.

A Time

by Sarah Langness

I caught myself wishing the other day. As Ezekiel crawled over to me at the kitchen sink and used my pant leg to pull himself up to a standing position, so desperately wanting to see what I was doing and so desperately wanting that bowl of oatmeal – I caught myself wishing: “I can’t wait until Zeke can stand up on his own.” It’d be nice. Then I could move my leg without worrying about knocking my son onto his rump or bumping his head into the counter. But almost as soon as I had that wish, I took it back. Because you know what? The past nine months have gone incredibly fast. Too fast. And I know that time, that Ezekiel’s – and therefore our – life, isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

It’s all too easy to wish our lives away, isn’t it? When we’re in middle school, we can’t wait to be in the high school. When we’re in high school, we can’t wait for the independence and freedom of college. When we’re in college, we can’t wait to graduate. We dream of getting married, of having kids. It seems like we always want to be where we aren’t; that we are always ready for the next phase, the next adventure – rather than living in the time the Father has given to us. We forget that life is full of seasons. And just like we can’t rush spring into summer on our own timeline, we can’t rush from one season of our lives into another.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak. a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

Some of the seasons hurt and seem to last much longer than we think they should. Other seasons are full of indescribable joy and they go way faster than we’d like. But they’re all seasons. They’re all “a time”. And the great part about those times – no matter how difficult, sorrowful, blessed, joyful, pained? We know the one who holds them in His hands. And each one of those are equally in His hands.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.” – Psalm 31:15